All Ireland Minor Semi-Final: Tyrone star Conan Grugan has Mayo firmly in his sights
He may have an Ulster Minor Championship medal in his back pocket already this season but Tyrone midfield ace Conan Grugan nonetheless still feels the necessity to make up for lost time.
Injury forced Grugan to miss the Ulster semi-final win over Down and, although he was back in harness for the final win over Armagh, the Omagh clubman believes he has an additional incentive to help overcome Mayo in Sunday’s All Ireland semi-final at Croke Park (1.30pm).
“No player wants to miss matches and that’s why I’m very keen now that we should go all the way. It was great to be part of the win over Armagh but Mayo will be a big test for us as they have been in the closing stages of the All Ireland series in each of the last two years,” points out Grugan (above).
Along with his engine-room partner Harry Og Conlon, the talented Grugan has helped to plot much of Tyrone’s progress to date but he insists that it’s teamwork which has carried the side to within touching distance of an All Ireland final appearance.
“All the boys have been doing their bit and we can’t wait to get out on Croke Park again after the win we had over Kerry in the quarter-final,” says Grugan.
Manager Raymond Munroe has already drawn up his blueprint for what he feels will be a demanding examination for his players, several of whom will have obtained success already at schools’ level.
“Some of these players are accustomed to winning things and, while that is good, it certainly won’t breed any complacency for Sunday. Mayo sides have become accustomed to Croke Park and they will feel they have a big point to make after losing last year’s All Ireland final to Armagh,” insists Munroe.
Mayo manager Tony Duffy and skipper Cillian O’Connor are united in the view that the Tyrone defence will be tough to break down.
“The team as a whole plays a similar style of football to their seniors. They attack in waves, force turnovers and tackle back to put pressure on opponents,” states Duffy.
And O’Connor, whose three late points helped to dispose of Offaly in the quarter-final, believes that the work the side has done since that match will now stand to them.
“We know we have to show a major improvement from that game if we are to have any chance. The performance on that occasion would not do at all against a team like Tyrone,” insists O’Connor.
Mayo were certainly pushed strongly by Offaly and on the evidence of that display it will be a major surprise if Tyrone do not confirm their place in the All Ireland final.